TAC calls for better services at clinics
More than 300 people attended the Treatment Action Campaign’s Western Cape provincial conference this weekend. The organisation declared its intention to begin a campaign in April to ensure that clinics offered basic medicines and treated people with HIV/AIDS with dignity and respect.
A call for better services at clinics and the availability of basic medicines were key elements of the Treatment Action Campaign’s Western Cape provincial conference held over the weekend.
More than 300 people attended the two-day proceedings which included briefings about TAC’s support for government in the upcoming court case brought by the pharmaceutical industry against the Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Act (1997), as well as plans to continue their defiance campaign to import affordable generic medicines.
TAC national chairperson, Zackie Achmat said the organisation would start a campaign in April in clinics across the Western Cape asking for basic medicines to be available. “We’ll start off with a day of action in April at all clinics – where people will ask superintendents ‘what is your budget and what can we do to help improve it?’
“The most important thing about TAC is that we’re not only fighting for affordable medicines for all people with HIV, but we’re also fighting for a quality health care service,” said Achmat.
“What people want to see is that nurses have the time to do their work, they want to see medicines in the stores, they want to see more nurses and better quality facilities. That means government has to spend more money on health care,” he added.
In her report back to the conference, provincial executive member, Sipho Mthathi said one of TAC’s key accomplishments had been “to turn victims into activists” and the organisation now had seven branches operating in the Western Cape – including Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Mitchells Plain and Cape Town city centre.
“The campaign is about empowering people with HIV,” she said, “to know about the disease we’re living with every day, to know about the treatments and what we can do to look after ourselves.”
Noteworthy about the conference were the high levels of hope and expectation placed on TAC by ordinary people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Question-time and report-back sessions offered people the chance to find out about access to treatment and to voice their hurt and anger at the manner in which they are treated at public clinics and hospitals.
Delegate after delegate urged TAC to take up a range of issues on their behalf, including measures to protect the rights and dignity of people living with the virus.
“We don’t want to encourage people to have faith in TAC, we want people to have faith in themselves,” said Achmat. “It’s going to take skilful management from the TAC staff, volunteers and executive members to manage all the demands being placed on us.”